About Yoko Ono


Yoko Ono (Yoko meaning ‘ocean child’ in kanji) was born in 1933, Tokyo, Japan. The world-renowned multimedia artist is known for her work in performance art, music and filmmaking. Ideas, rather than materials, make up the core of Yoko Ono’s art. Based on verbal or written instructions for actions that are utopian, ephemeral and performable, Yoko Ono presents viewers with art which becomes a shared mental or physical experience.


Yoko Ono is a present-day living icon. She manages to constantly develop and renew an outstanding artistic oeuvre, making her a pioneer – one of very few women - in the field of avant-garde art practice, as well as in the field of music, film, and the peace movements, she is also a feminist pioneer. Her art is participatory, engaging and carries a subtle sense of humor. It is also life-affirming with a strong social and political reference motivated by profoundly human concerns. With a starting point in the desire to make a difference, her art has been called ground-breaking and controversial, influencing that of Fluxus, whose manifesto includes the call to “promote a revolutionary flood and tide in art, promote living art, anti-art” by removing the art from the sublime and sacred object towards the fundamental idea. This notion also links to her cultural background of Zen Buddhism, which essence is self-reflection and meditation with the aim to free the soul from earthly fetters.


Idiosyncrasy and vicissitude had combined to stamp Yoko Ono as an exceptional being. She fights for her ideal without a trace of cynicism and creates lasting symbols. In recent years, Yoko Ono’s work and herself as an artist are starting to get the recognition deserved. During her life with former Beatles member John Lennon, she and Lennon were particularly involved in peace activities and they spread her philosophy of charity and tolerance. By the 1970s, they had become a symbol of the International Peace Movement. A message that Yoko Ono still continues to spread to this day.


She is well known for her major artwork, Wish Tree’s, where viewers are invited to write a wish and hang it on to a branch of a tree. At the conclusion of an exhibition, all of the wishes will be sent to Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace Tower in Reykjavik, Iceland to join wishes from millions of people from around the world who have participated the Wish Tree project dated back to 1996.


Yoko Ono entered the Philosophy Department of Gakushuin University in 1952. The year after she moved with her family to New York, where she now lives and works. Yoko Ono studied music and poetry at the Sarah Lawrence College, and started an interest in art when settling in New York City. By 1960, she was an active participant in the New York avant-garde scene and was associated with pioneers like John Cage, and she influenced George Maciunas and the Fluxus movement. She has since then travelled the world with her art and her antiwar activities.



Her recent exhibitions include: Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960–1971 (2015); MoMA, N.Y., Yoko Ono: TO THE LIGHT (2012); Serpentine Gallery, London, Yoko Ono Arising (2013-2014); Gallery 360, Tokyo, YOKO ONO: WAR IS OVER! (IF YOU WANT IT) (2013-2014); Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and YOKO ONO - HALF-A-WIND SHOW; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2013), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark (2013), Kunsthalle Krems (2013), Guggenheim, Bilbao (2014). She received a Golden Lion Award for lifetime achievement from the Venice Biennale in 2009 and the 2012 Oskar Kokoschka Prize, Austria's highest award for applied contemporary art.